The Big Issue : Edition 460
THE BIG ISSUE 6 – 19 JUNE 2014 15 The Controversy ALL EYES ARE on Brazil, and it wouldn’t be a world event without speculation about whether the host nation is prepared. There are the usual venue readiness concerns (some stadiums were still installing seats at the 11th hour) and Brazil’s football players’ association, FENAPAF, launched legal action because of concerns about matches scheduled for the hottest part of the day. Australians still miffed about missing out on hosting the 2022 World Cup might be inclined to say: wait until you get to Qatar, which will be even hotter. There are protests, too, largely relating to the government funding this event when Brazil would better benefit from investment in education, health and infrastructure. Sports minister Aldo Rebelo also conceded the World Cup faces serious security threats, inadvertently heightening concerns when he intended to downplay them. He said the country was not a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan. Er, okay. What to Expect WHAT BR AZIL LACKS in organisation and infrastructure it makes up for in atmosphere. After all, this is the country synonymous with football and most credited with bestowing the ‘beautiful’ on the beautiful game. Its football-loving culture is ingrained from the earliest age: the five-time FIFA Female World Player of the Year, Marta, honed her skills playing against boys in the favelas [urban slums]. As a country that brings together striking stretches of white-sand beaches, lush mountains, flamboyant outfits and infectious rhythms, Brazil will provide a visually arresting backdrop. Expect your screens, big and small, to fill with magnificent vistas. And football’s not the only game in town: you’ll also be impressed with the nation’s portmanteaued sport, footvolley (football meets volleyball). It was created on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach in the 1960s so footballers could play football without contravening their clubs’ ban on playing so as to avoid injury. Footvolley is now an opportunity to showcase sublime ball skills, not to mention some incredibly toned bodies. Complementing those tropical images – especially for those watching in early winter mornings – will be the blizzard of brands being advertised. Every boot and banner is a marketing opportunity. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the vuvuzela became infamous for its annoying buzzing sound. This year it’s the caxirola maraca’s turn and, thankfully, the shaker makes a less- irritating sound than a plastic trumpet. It’s also going to be a handy projectile for incensed fans wanting to express their distaste at a result. Expect to hear more about these devices. Australia and the World Cup THE SOCCEROOS WILL be fronting up for their third successive World Cup, but they’re not going to win the grand prize. It’s important to get that detail out of the way. Ranked by FIFA as 59th in the world (well below its all-time high of 14th in 2009), Australia has reportedly been drawn in the Group of Death (although almost every team claims they’re in the Group of Death, up against ‘unbeatable’ teams – it’s a fluid concept). With the 2010 finalists, Spain and the Netherlands, both in the group, and then flamboyant Chile rounding out the remaining spot, the Socceroos face tough, tougher and bullet- proof opponents. Consider yourself forewarned: Australia’s 2014 World Cup experience will tip more towards agony than ecstasy. But one advantage is that Australia is an unknown entity, including how its players may combine. The Socceroos’ unpredictability (and underdog status) may just catch teams by surprise. It’s almost World Cup time again, when Australians’ nights become days and office conversation turns to red cards. It’s the time when everyone becomes an expert, terms like ‘Hand of God’ enter the lexicon, and allegiances change as teams stumble. After four years of waiting, the world’s most-watched sporting event is upon us, bringing with it euphoria and heartbreak, often milliseconds apart.